With real-life doomsday scenarios like mega-tsunamis and nuclear meltdown making headlines, companies marketing survival shelters have seen a spike in interest in recent months. A few days ago, CNN Money ran an article on a new type of “economy class” doomsday bunker for thrifty folks who still want to hedge their bets against catastrophe.
These pared-down bunkers are part of a 100,000 sq. ft. underground facility called “Vivos 1000.” The four-bunk compartments cost $9,950 and promise customers six months of “autonomous” survival. Units in the Vivos company’s high-end bunker complexes—which feature comforts like pool tables and stocked wine cellars—sell for $25,000 to $35,000 and promise clients survival for up to one year. Although these luxury units were selling steadily, the recent uptick in interest spurred the company to develop a budget-priced model and thus, the Vivos 1000 was born.
Vivos and a slew of competitors market their survival shelters as protection against a host of apocalyptic scenarios, including tsunamis, nuclear accidents, volcanic eruptions, asteroids, epidemics, solar flares and instability in the Middle East. Even though the recent Rapture predictions proved false, many people still wonder if the Mayans were on to something with their doomsday prediction for 2012.
Editor’s Note: After reading the article, 12 Things that the Mainstream Media is Being Strangely Quiet About (via The Daily Crux), I took stock of our own bug out bags and various stockpiles. As they say, plan for the worst; hope for the best
Some shelter companies market family-sized backyard bunkers, but others, like Vivos, are counting on filling up entire post-apocalyptic communities. Vivos has more than five 200-occupant shelters in the works around the U.S., as well as a mega-shelter for up to 1,000 survivalists in Nebraska.
Shelling out thousands of dollars for a berth in one of these bunkers has a big downside: access. During a “life extinction event,” clients may not be able to reach their costly safe haven. If transportation routes collapse, food and fuel become scarce, and anarchy reigns, getting to Nebraska might not be a fun-filled road trip.
In the event of a catastrophe, sheltering in place might be a more practical solution. Many websites, including the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency-sponsored site Ready.gov, provide basic information on sheltering in place and disaster preparedness.
Selecting a home with a basement that can be utilized as a bunker in times of emergency is a practical choice. There is no need to invest in an off-site facility when a basement bunker can be reinforced and stocked to the specifications of the homeowner. Access in an emergency is simple, and there is the added comfort of being at home during chaotic or uncertain times.
If your home does not have a basement that can be used as a shelter, you may be able to build a bunker elsewhere on your property. Such shelters can serve double-duty as a root cellar or wine cellar while providing a safety zone during an emergency or natural disaster.
My family had such a shelter when I was a child, and although it was ostensibly used as a root cellar for potatoes and preserves, I know my military-minded father had its other purpose in mind when he built it.
A safe room is an option for a home that lacks both a basement and sufficient outdoor space to build a below-ground shelter. Often designed to withstand high winds, a safe room can also be used during a home invasion or other emergency.
A safe room can be as simple as a closet retrofitted with an exterior-grade door and a heavy lock, or as elaborate as a ventilated structure reinforced with concrete, Kevlar, or steel sheeting.
Several websites, including FEMA.gov, offer valuable tips on safe room construction. An integrated safe room is convenient and economical because it does not require the construction of a separate shelter. A home’s safe room can be a bathroom, storage closet or other room that has been reinforced, anchored and stocked–but that still blends seamlessly into the home’s floor plan.
Any shelter should be equipped with emergency supplies including food, water, flashlights, blankets, first aid supplies, sanitation supplies, a portable or fixed toilet, and any self-defense items deemed necessary by the occupants.
Some homeowners are happy to forgo a new swimming pool or family vacation in order to pay for a safe haven for their family. Recent events prompted one family to take $20,000 they had set aside as a down-payment on a new home and instead purchase a space in a Vivos stronghold.
Will this decision turn out to be a wise move or a personal-finance cataclysm? We’ll just have to wait until 2012 to find out.
This article was written by contributing author Laurel Gray.